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May. 15th, 2017 05:58 am
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Hello and welcome to Lily's Reviews!

I like to read a lot of books and many different genres.

I will consider all requests, but sometimes it may take me longer to post reviews than I would like - and I apologize for that!

The links below is where I may be found online:
Amazon Storefront

If you would like to request a review, my e-mail address is: gabbylraines@gmail.com

Thank you for stopping by.

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For September, Lily's Reviews also welcomes author Jessica Scott, who was kind enough to do an interview.

Lily's Reviews: Do you listen to music while writing?
Jessica Scott: Yes, I almost always listen to music when I write. It varies, but I’m most productive when I have a song stuck in my head.

LR: If you could live near any of your characters or within any of the worlds you create, which would it be?
JS: Back in Durham. I loved living there.

LR: Out of all your works, which pairing (only one) would you choose to and why?
I think Noah and Beth are probably my favorite. That is a very personal book to me for a lot of different reasons.

LR: Who is your favorite character to write?
JS: He’s a character from my very first series, but Vic Carponti was always my favorite to write.

LR: What’s your favorite series to write?
JS: I'm enjoying the Falling series very much. It keeps surprising me on where it’s going.

LR: What makes you decide to end a series?
JS: When I lose the joy of working on it and when sales simply don’t support continuing.

LR: What was your job before being a writer? What did you study in college?
JS: I’m a full time Army officer and I have a Ph.D. in sociology.

LR: What made you become a writer?
JS: I needed a place to put all of the stories in my head and to unpack a lot of the stuff from deployment and my time in the Army.

LR: Do the seasons have any influence on what you want to write?
JS: No, but I love reading a good Christmas story.

LR: Who is the most challenging character to write and why?
JS: I think Caleb in a forthcoming book is going to be a real pain to write. Mostly because I didn’t really like him for most of the Falling series, to be honest. But he’s starting to grow on me.

LR: Describe a day in the life of Jessica Scott.
JS: Get the kids off to school, teach most mornings, lunch, email, admin work, home, dinner, put the kids to bed and then hopefully have some time with my husband before we both collapse and do it all again the next day.

LR: Do you compile any playlists while writing a book that is specific to that book?
JS: Sometimes I do but mostly my books end up with 2 or 3 songs that run through my head in various parts of writing each one.

Thank you, Ms. Scott for stopping by Lily's Reviews.
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Lily's Reviews welcomes Mary Calmes to the blog.

Ms. Calmes has written a few words about some of her favorite interactions.

Favorite fan interactions at previous Coastal Magic conventions

Last year at Coastal I was talking to fans who are also friends in between panels and we got onto the subject of Easter eggs and how many I have and Easter eggs versus cameos and how many characters have appeared in other books and it was wonderful. I love talking about my characters so much and hearing theories from others is simply the best thing ever.

Most asked questions versus questions you would like to hear asked more?
I love any and all questions. The ones where fans ask if a certain character did or did not kill someone or if a certain character got what's coming to them, are really fun as are theories about what really motivated a character to do what they did. But questions about reading order or how come Acrobat isn't under the A Matter of Time umbrella are also fun. Really and truly, I love them all. I'm always so thrilled when people care enough to ask me about my work. It's such a gift.

Do you think it would be possible to expand on the following: Easter eggs in terms of writing for those who (like me) may sort of know what it means, but not quite. :)

An Easter egg may be something like simply an appearance in another book or an entire different series. When Kane Morgan from Rhys Ford's Sinners series showed up in the second marshals book, a lot of people were excited. That was a really fun Easter egg because for fans of that series, it was oh so good to see Kane. For people who didn't know who he was, when they asked if I was going to write a book about him, I could send them right there to that series of wonderful books. It's also like Sam Kage being Miro's boss in the marshals. Lots of new fans were like, will there be a book about him and I got to say, there are 5. Also the crossover from book to book like Rand's lawyer in When The Dust Settles is Rick Jenner who met his wife in Jory's books and pops up somewhere in most of those. So it's the progression of characters in different books that people can be surprised and happy to see again.

And, from the second part, what theory or two stands out from those speculated on.

Theories like when Joey Romelli died in Acrobat, was Dreo the one who did in fact kill him? A lot of people were adamant that he did not, but if you read Dreo's dialogue and follow his character arc, you know that to protect Nate and Michael, either of them, he'd do anything. It's the like the guys in the park who hassle everyone, including Nate. Those guys are gone the next time Nate walks by and we're never clear if they'd just moved on of if they're gone, gone. But that one stands out, that Dreo didn't kill Joey Romelli when in fact, he most certainly did. Or like in the second L'Ange book, people were certain that it would be Arman and Tucker, that they had slept together. But that information was from Quade, from Quade's POV, and he thought they'd slept together but he never knew definitively. He's an unreliable narrator about himself and his own merits but also about others. So when that book came out and it was Arman and Linus instead, some people were surprised. But because it's first-person, unless its confirmed by others, it should not be taken as fact. Or when Miro finds out that Rego James killed Carrington Adams. In the AMOT books, we think that Adams brought James in, that he was the one to do that, but he was in fact not. James killed him but we don't learn that until the second marshal book, Fit To Be Tied. Discussing theories is a favorite thing of mine.

Thank you, Ms. Calmes, for stopping by Lily's Reviews!
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Today, Lily's Reviews welcomes author KC Burn.

From KC Burn's website: "I’ve been writing for what feels like my whole life. I’m a sucker for a happy ending (get your mind out of the gutters!) so it’s been romance almost all the way. After moving from Toronto to Florida for my hubby to take a dream job, I discovered a love of gay romance and fulfilled my own dream — getting published. After a few years of editing web content by day and at night, neglecting my supportive hubby and needy cat to write about men loving men, I was uprooted yet again, and now reside in California.

Writing is always fun, despite the hard work, but writing about my guys is more fun than I’ve had in a long time. Love between consenting adults is a beautiful thing, and should be celebrated, regardless of sexual orientation. I hope you enjoy reading my stories as much as I love writing them."

Now, the fun part :) :

Lily's Reviews (LR): Do you listen to music while writing?

KC Burn: Absolutely. The music doesn’t in any way inspire or influence my stories, but it definitely helps keeps my butt in the chair!

LR: If you could live near any of your characters or within any of the worlds you create, which would it be?

KB: LOL. Well, most of my contemporary stuff is located near places I’ve lived. However, as for my paranormal and sci-fi stuff, I’d definitely have to say probably the world of my Galactic Alliance series. Interplanetary travel and sentient aliens would be the coolest thing.

LR: Out of all your works, which pairing (only one) would you choose to and why?

KB: What a difficult question! Probably Tyler and Maxwell from Illusion of Life. It was such a challenge to write that story, since the two don’t actually meet until well after halfway through the book, that I have a real soft spot for the two of them.

LR: Who is your favorite character to write?

KB: Most of my characters are dear to me, and the answer to this question would probably vary depending on which day you ask me but today I’m going to say Gideon Arcturus from Voodoo ‘n’ Vice. He was so buttoned up, so rules oriented that he almost causes a galactic incident in Alien ‘n’ Outlaw, and I need to redeem him to the point of being a sympathetic hero deserving of love in Voodoo ‘n’ Vice. I definitely adored writing him.

LR: What’s your favorite series to write?

KB: All of them! That may sound weird, but there are reasons why I like all the series I write. But if I’m forced to choose, I’m going to say MIA Case Files. A little bit campy, a whole lot of fun, and a lot of sex. I had a blast writing those.

LR: What makes you decide to end a series?

KB: My problem is too many ideas, too little time. After about three books, I certainly have plenty of ideas with which to continue a series, but other plot bunnies usually start screaming about that time. I do intend to continue my Galactic Alliance series, though, and I could easily go back and pick up any of my existing series, no problem.

LR: What was your job before being a writer? What did you study in college?

KB: Ha! How about what’s my job WHILE being a writer! My day job is website development, and while I might at some point be able to ditch the day job, at the moment I need to keep my health care. As for university, I have a degree in Physical Anthropology and another in Medieval History. Neither of which have been particularly useful since, although I used the evolutionary biology aspects of the first degree to help develop my aliens in my Galactic Alliance series.

LR: It must have been interesting to study. I love Medieval History myself (and my own 'research section' proves it). What made you become a writer?

KB: I’ve always been a reader, and when I was ten my dad gave me a copy of The Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings. That was it. Game over. I knew then I wanted to be a writer.

LR: Do the seasons have any influence on what you want to write?

KB: Nope! I live in California now, and seasons are apparently nonexistent down here. I’m working on a Christmas story now, and writing about snow and sleet when it’s been years since I’ve lived in that sort of environment is always a bit challenging.

LR: Who is the most challenging character to write and why?

KB: R’kos, my alien protagonist from Alien ‘n’ Outlaw, hands down. One of the trickiest things is to create an alien that is sexually appealing, with enough differences to be “alien” but with enough similarities to enable them to create relationships with humans. Tricky, tricky. He was definitely a challenge.

LR: Which perfume/scent matches each main character?

KB: Generally, I don’t consider scent much. Adam, from Wolfsbane, though, had a particular scent that I had to scour the cologne counters to get just the right one. However… since colognes aren’t MY thing, and I didn’t name the scent in the book, I can’t remember exactly which one it was. It came in a blue bottle. If only I’d made notes… But I’m just not that organized.

LR: Describe a day in the life of KC Burn.

KB: Super dull, unfortunately. Feed the cat, feed the hubby, fire up the laptop to start my work day. Once that’s done, I try to do some writing, then start dinner. Feed the cat. After dinner, if I’m not on deadline, hubby and I will watch TV or play board games (our current favorites are Castles of Mad King Ludwig and TIME Stories). If I’m on deadline, then it’s back to the computer for more writing. That’s about it.

LR: Which character do you most relate to?

KB: A lot of my characters are fish out of water, and that’s often how I feel. However, the one that is absolutely closest to me is Dean Murphy from Three Dates of Christmas. I’m definitely a Christmas Grinch, because I also spent many years in retail, and it’s really, really hard to retain goodwill after that.

LR: Do you compile any playlists while writing a book that is specific to that book?

KB: Nope, just listen to my regular collection of music. I have such narrow musical tastes that there’s little point in separating things out into playlists.

LR: Huge thank you to KC Burn for stopping by Lily's Reviews!

KC Burn may be found at:
KC Burn
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Lily's Reviews welcomes author Aria Kane to the blog for an interview.

Welcome Ms. Kane - very glad to have you here!

Lily's Reviews: Do you like to listen to music while writing?

Aria Kane: Yes! I actually did a panel two years ago at Coastal Magic about music and writing. I often use music to help me establish the mood of a scene I’m writing, so my playlists are more about that than book-specific.

LR: If you could live near any of your characters or within any of the worlds you create, which would it be?

AK: I’d love to be friends with Derek and Andy from One Lucky Night! I’d go to the pub Derek works at and Andy’s always great if you need anything fixed around the house :-) Plus, Derek knows how everyone takes their coffee!

LR: Who is your favorite character to write?

AK: Erik from Once Upon a Darkness was probably my favorite character ever. He’s a huge guy, rough around the edges, but also kinda a teddy bear. One day, I’m going to write a book for him.

LR: What was your job before being a writer? What did you study in college?

AK: I actually still have a day job as an event planner for a library and it’s the best job ever! I studied Mechanical Engineering in college and worked in that industry for a few years, but I hated my life most days.

LR: What made you become a writer?

AK: I had always been interested in writing, but when educators found out I was good at math & science, I got pushed pretty hard in that direction. I enjoyed the coursework, but once I got in the industry, I was pretty miserable. I was a project engineer and found myself in upstate New York in late Autumn (i.e. more snow than I’d ever seen in my life) with no friends and lots of free time. That’s when I started writing again and I was hooked.

LR: Do the seasons have any influence on what you want to write?

AK: I live in Florida and we don’t really have seasons. Haha! Though you can see from my previous question that snowy weather was partly responsible for me getting into writing.

LR: Describe a day in the life of Aria Kane.

There really is no typical day. I’m an event planner so even my dayjob schedule isn’t regular. On top of that, I have some health issues, so some days I can do the bare minimum and some days I can’t stop writing. I try to work on something every day, whether it’s writing a book, taking care of emails, writing articles for Book Riot, or promo. Some days it doesn’t happen though. I’m also an incurable extrovert so I have a lively social life.

LR: Thank you very much for stopping by the blog!

Aria Kane is a recovering mechanical engineer and romance author. As a military brat, she grew up all over the country, but now lives in sunny Florida with a 60 lb mutt who thinks he's a Chihuahua.

She also writes young adult books as Sarah Nicolas.

Find her on Twitter @sarah_nicolas and on Instagram at @presidentsarah.
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Coastal Magic is a super casual convention and book signing in Daytona Beach, FL. Our goal is to bring authors and readers of urban fantasy, paranormal, and the many facets of romance together for a memorable weekend by the beach.

With panels designed to start interesting discussion, and meet & greets with fun themes, we’ve got something for just about every reader. While there IS a schedule, there is also ample time for authors and their fans to just hang out together, this is what we’re here for! Join us for reader, blogger, and author shenanigans.

Saturday’s charity book sale and signing is open to convention attendees, and also FREE to the public. We’ve got a Featured Author lineup, over 50 amazing storytellers, that showcases not only bestselling favorites, but debut and “new to you” authors that are sure to catch your attention. Come take a bite out of the beach with us!! Feb 22-25, 2018.

Here Are Some Comments From Previous Featured Authors:

“I loved the intimacy of the convention. Not too big, not too small, but still busy busy busy. It's one that every fan of PNR, UF, and Fantasy should come visit.” - Eric R Asher

“This conference HANDS DOWN IS THE BEST! Warm, friendly, atmosphere and a place where readers, writers, and bloggers can get together for great fun!” - Tigris Eden

“It’s fantastic. Intimate and funky in the best way.” “Phenomenal. SO much fun, great biz, and friendly besides. [Coastal Magic] gets better every year.” - Damon Suede

“[Jennifer] promised me Florida beaches in February, enthusiastic readers, and great, organized programming. Wow – did she ever deliver! This is now at the top of my list for favorite reader-organized conventions.” - Jeffe Kennedy

“I’ve been every year, and here’s why: it’s a community. This convention brings together authors, bloggers and readers in such a way that we all get to know each other pretty well. We become a family.” - Lucienne Diver

Social Media Links:
Hashtag on all media platforms: #CMCon18
Website: http://CoastalMagicConvention.com
Facebook “likeable” Page: https://www.facebook.com/CoastalMagicConvention
Facebook Authors & Attendees Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1493110704280867
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CoastalMagicCon
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/coastalmagiccon
Tumblr: http://coastalmagicconvention.tumblr.com

Coastal Magic Convention’s raffle benefits one of our local Habitat For Humanity chapters. A portion of sales from books sold through our bookseller (Books-A-Million) will go to Community Partnership For Children.
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The following picture is a must have (at some point) when I read and it requires a little bit of explanation.


The above lovelies have been picked up over the years and 'keep an eye on', if you will, on my reading at some point in time during the day.

One in the middle has been passed down to me and what started the idea.

The ones above and below it were found in New Orleans.

The other two are Venetian (yes, I'm sure :) ).

*Apologies for the unclear picture.
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Today, Lily's Reviews welcomes Mark Stevens, the author's (Gary Reilly) friend and publisher, who writes about him.....

Pablo Picasso said “the purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”

My pal Gary Reilly felt that truth, I believe, in his soul.

One big chunk of “daily life” that Gary had to wash away was The Vietnam War.

Gary invented Private Palmer as his artistic catharsis. Gary wrote The Private Palmer Trilogy—200,000 words of keen insight into what if feels like to go to war, fight in the war, and come home again.

In The Enlisted Men’s Club (2014), Private Palmer is doing his time at The Presidio in San Francisco and the war looms. Private Palmer doesn’t know if he’ll be shipped off or not. He spends his time trying to avoid superiors with dumb ideas and meaningless chores. Briefly, Private Palmer tries to curry favor. He makes a few friends on the base and off. Mostly, he drinks as much beer as possible. Until, that is, he is sent on a somber mission that changes his life.

The Detachment (2016), takes place in Vietnam. Private Palmer is an MP and the most of the action takes place around the Qui Nhon Army Airfield, where Gary was based. Now, the war is much closer. Now, there’s more beer and stronger substances that will help you forget where you are and what you’re doing. Private Palmer walks right up to the edge of the abyss and peers over. The Detachment is told in three parts of Private Palmer’s year “in country.” The first is arrival and orientation to the new surroundings, to the sounds and sights of war. The second part is survival, mid-year. The third part is Palmer seeing the finish line—and hoping nothing happens to ruin his chances of going home in one piece.

The Discharge comes out this month (June 23). Now, Palmer (no longer “Private”) is back home in Denver and he’s trying to find his way, trying to re-establish who he is and want he wants to do after all that he’s seen. In real life, Gary Reilly at one point was very close to being a paid writer with the stand-up comedian Louie Anderson and in The Discharge, in the moving middle section, Palmer goes to California to chase this hope. In the third section, Palmer is back in Denver still looking to find his place in the world, some meaning, when he settles on driving a taxi.

And, at the very end, starting to write fiction. Palmer had one short story published in a prominent journal and we know that becoming a novelist was always a secret dream, just as it was for Gary.

What do we ask of our soldiers? What do we know of their lives mid-war? How do we treat them when they come home?

And what was it like to have lived through it? I knew Gary for the last seven years of his life. He didn’t talk about Vietnam. He preferred to chat about the latest movie he’d seen or book he’d read.

He loved stories. He knew their power.

Gary Reilly, who passed away in 2011, took all that Vietnam dust and washed it away in three brilliant, sharply written novels. (The terrific novelist Ron Carlson called The Detachment “Catch 23 or 24.”)

The Private Palmer Series is complete. The Asphalt Warrior series, eight books (so far) of comedic “dust” based on Gary’s life as a taxi driver in Denver is nearing completion. And then there are another dozen or so novels to publish that Gary left behind.

Gary Reilly knew what to do with all his experiences, heavy-duty ones or every-day working week.

Turn them into art.
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Shared from the Coastal Magic Convention site:

So… those of you who are familiar with the #Bookstagram tag on social media will recognize the process here. For each day of the month, one of our Featured Authors or Featured Bloggers will provide a picture that fits the prompt for that day. I’ll be posting their pictures on our Coastal Magic Instagram Account (which shares to our Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr), and each of you who posts your picture, as well, will be entered to win a General Registration! To enter, your picture must:

1.Contain books/book related items

2.Be posted on, and fit the prompt for each day (open to interpretation, so be creative!

3.Include the hashtag #CMCon18JunePics

4.Has to be a picture you’ve taken… not something you find online

Each person will receive one entry for each day they post a qualifying picture. Sharing on multiple platforms is appreciated, but will not earn extra entries.

Winner will be selected at random and notified when General Registration opens on July 1st. Prize is only a free general registration ($90 value); travel and hotel arrangements and payments are the responsibility of the winner.

Text and graphic (c) Coastal Magic Convention.

If there are any questions regarding the contest, please check out the Convention page here. There is a contact page, along with links to Twitter and Facebook pages.
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You have a very unique story - and one someone couldn’t really tell unless they experienced it first-hand. What inspired you to tell this story?

My two sons and six grandchildren - they’re the most important thing to me. I wanted to leave them something that had meaning. After four years of writing, I had my story down on paper about my time in a North Vietnamese prison camp, but nothing else. One of my daughters-in-law said I needed to put some of my life before and after prison into the book. A Colorado Publisher connected me with author and editor Cara Lopez Lee in 2014, and she helped me piece things together. We published Unexpected Prisoner two years later.

What do you think will surprise readers most about Unexpected Prisoner?

Even given my experience, I think readers will be surprised at my attitude toward the North Vietnamese. I don’t really have bad feelings toward them, because the treatment could have been so much worse.

How so?

When I came home from the war, I read everything I could on POWs and the Vietnam War. I learned that since the beginning of time, POWs have been treated very, very badly.

For example - In World War II, the Japanese chopped off two American heads for every mile of the Bataan death march. Twenty-seven to forty percent of American prisoners held by the Japanese died in captivity. In our revolutionary war, 20,000 colonial prisoners died in the holds of British ships in Brooklyn and Boston harbors. Five times as many colonists died on those ships as died on the battlefield. Of the 5 million Russian prisoners held by the Germans in World War II, 3 million died in captivity. The Russians captured 95,000 German troops at the battle of Stalingrad, and only 5,000 of those prisoners ever came home. Thirteen thousand union soldiers died at Andersonville within 14 months during our own civil war - that’s one soldier every 45 minutes! Our tour guide at Andersonville took 45 minutes to do the tour.

Only 7 American prisoners died in Hanoi the whole time I was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. Only 28 prisoners died in North Vietnam. If you compare the treatment we received from the North Vietnamese with the treatment POWs received from their captors in other wars, ours looks pretty good.

You enjoy sharing your experience with audiences through speaker presentations. What is your favorite part of that process?

I get a rush from telling my story - it can be addictive. The audiences are always good, and I enjoy the connection with them.

How has sharing your story benefited others (and have there been any unique stories prompted by audience members)?

Many veterans - especially those who were in the infantry - seem to relate to my story. I think my story supports what many veterans went through and what they feel.

It surprised me - but I’ve also seen that teenagers have benefited from my story, as they have their own challenges and can relate to the adversity in my memoir. So really - it can appeal to anyone going through a difficult time in their life.

(Q&A, as well as the information from previous post have been forwarded to Lily's Reviews)

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In honor of Veteran's Day, Lily's Reviews is having a spotlight on the following book:

When Lieutenant Robert Wideman's plane crashed on a bombing run in the Vietnam War, he feared falling into enemy hands. Although he endured the kind of pain that makes people question humanity, physical torture was not his biggest problem. During six years as a prisoner of war, he saw the truth behind Jean-Paul Sartre's words: "Hell is other people." Unexpected Prisoner explores a POW's struggle with enemies and comrades, Vietnamese interrogators and American commanders, his lost dreams and ultimately himself.



up.pngRobert Wideman

Robert Wideman was born in Montreal, grew up in upstate New York, and has dual U.S.-Canadian citizenship. During the Vietnam War, he flew 134 missions for the U.S. Navy and spent six years as a prisoner of war. He earned a master’s degree in finance from the Naval Postgraduate School. After retiring from the Navy, he graduated from the University of Florida College of Law, practiced law in Florida and Mississippi, and became a flight instructor. He holds a commercial pilot’s license with an instrument rating.

He belongs to Veterans Plaza of Northern Colorado and lives in Fort Collins near his two sons and six grandchildren.

up.pngCara Lopez Lee

Cara is an author, editor, and writing coach. She has edited and/or collaborated on more than twenty books. Her stories have appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Denver Post, Pangyrus, Connotation Press, and Rivet Journal. She was a writer for shows on HGTV, Food Network, and Discovery Health. She teaches for the Young Writers Program at Lighthouse Writers Workshop. Her writing has earned 16 awards from The Denver Woman's Press Club and Alaska Press Club. Lopez lives with her husband in Ventura, California.

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Blurb: When a border dispute between two bear clans destabilizes shapeshifter relations throughout Europe and threatens to reveal their existence to humans, the Sazi High Council orders both sides to the negotiation table. The peace talks take place in Luna Lake, the American community where all shifter species–wolf, cat, bird, bear, and more–live in harmony.

Diplomats, their families, and security personnel stream into town, among them Dalvin Adway, a Wolven agent. Dalvin is startled to find Rachel Washington in Luna Lake. The last time he saw her, they were children in Detroit. Then she was kidnapped and, he thought, murdered. But Rachel became an owl-shifter as a result of the attack and has avoided family and old friends ever since, knowing they would not understand her. She’s stunned to see Dalvin and learn that he, too, is an owl-shifter.

Their wary friendship is on the brink of becoming something more when conspiracy and betrayal cause the peace talks to break down. The fight between the bear clans will be settled through a form of traditional challenge–a risky tactic that might lead to full-blown war. Rachel is determined to prevent that, even if it means taking up the challenge herself!

Review: Last year, I was fortunate enough to read the first book in the new Sazi series, Forbidden as an ARC (review may be found here) and I have enjoyed how the story is being continued in Illicit.

The second book has been as much fun to read as the first in this new Sazi setting. There are twists and turns and layers upon layers. Misunderstandings, differing loyalties, illusions - and that is just the beginning. All of that covers the parties at the peace talks, the Council members, and Rachel and Dalvin, albeit in different ways and everything is woven and interwoven together.

I look forward to what comes next.

Book provided by publisher for an honest review.

Illicit may be purchased here.

(Cover and blurb (c)Tor)
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Please welcome Cathy Clamp to Lily's Reviews. Please be sure to check out the giveaway details at the end of the guest post.

Hi, all! Lily asked me to stop by today to talk to you about my new book, ILLICIT, which comes out TODAY!! The best way to tell you about the book is to let you read some of it. Tor Books was kind enough to feature the first chapter of ILLICIT on Tor.com:


So, go read that first. Then come back here right away, because today, only here on Lily’s Reviews, will people get a chance to read the next chunk of the book! Here then, is (most of) chapter 2 of ILLICIT. It’s only “most of” because, well . . . I want you to go buy the book to find out what happens next!


Rachel pulled the orange-patterned kerchief from her head and used it to wipe her sweaty brow. The cloth came away dark with dirt—unsurprising, since she’d been clearing out closets and cleaning up for the move. She turned off the blaring Pointer Sisters’ “Neutron Dance,” leaving a sudden quiet that was almost dizzying. “Well, I think that’s about it.”

`The pile of trash bags full of garbage towered over the small stack of boxes containing things she planned to keep. So many memories were tied up inside those black plastic bags . . . horrible memories that soon would fester and rot in a landfill somewhere, out of her life at last. Rachel kicked the closest sack hard enough to make the whole stack vibrate.

“Man, I’m really going to miss you.” She turned at the sound of the medium tenor voice behind her and saw her best friend, Scott Clayton, collapse onto the couch. He’d been helping her pack. “Do you have to leave right now? It’s barely light.”

Rachel snorted harshly. Inhaling, she was surprised to smell that Scott really was wistful. The thick, wet scent of his sorrow made her respond with less sarcasm than she might have otherwise. “I wish I could have left a week ago. I can’t believe you’re going to stay. I’ve only got a reprieve until Claire’s term as town Omega ends.” Just the thought of the Ascension made her stomach sick. Maybe it started out as a good idea—Sazi testing their skills in competition instead of fighting each other—but it had turned out to be just another way to keep the lesser shifters “in their place.” Under the boot heels of those at the top.

“Claire’s an alpha,” Rachel continued. “You know that if the next challenge is between me and you, you’ll win—you’re just flat out a better flyer than I am. So if I don’t leave town now, I’ll be the Omega again. I’ll never be free.

“This owl wants to spread her wings. Every corner I turn in town, every person I see, makes me . . . damn, I just want to beat their faces in with a shovel.” She couldn’t help that there was real vitriol in her speech.

Scott shook his head; his blond hair, with its one long streak of white, fell into his face. Even though he was sweating and had been working hard, his skin was so pale that it nearly matched the streak.

“I’m staying because I want to believe Mayor Monk was the one behind everything we had to deal with,” he said. “Hell, we were mind-controlled, Rach. Why can’t you believe other people were too? He’s dead now. People should get back to normal.”

Rachel shrugged. As far as she was concerned, there was no use trying to fix what was broken in Luna Lake. “After a decade, this is normal, Scott. People who have never actually been the Omega don’t know what goes on and wouldn’t believe us if we told them.

“Hell, our own family didn’t believe how bad the abuse was, and the rest of the townspeople will lie through their teeth, deny that there were any problems.” That was the worst part . . . the lying, the hiding, the pretending.

“I still think you should go with me and Dani to Spokane. Dani wouldn’t mind you sleeping on the floor until you could get your own place, and frankly, the expenses would be easier with three. No more free ride from the town; we’re going to have to hit the street to find jobs so we can pay tuition.”

Scott leaned back and sighed. “It’s not that easy for me. I know what I want to do with my life. I want to open an herb shop, and most of what I want to sell grows in the woods around here. If I don’t live in town, I doubt the Council will let me harvest herbs. I can’t take plants from state or federal land, and I sure as hell can’t afford to buy them, even at wholesale prices. Not yet, anyway. I’ll just tough it out for a year or so, while I get my business started.

“At least those two bastards are dead,” he said with a grin that was more like a show of bared teeth.

Rachel still couldn’t believe that Mayor Monk and Chief Gabriel were gone. After the years of abuse the two men had put her and Scott through, being free of them seemed like a dream, one she kept fearing she’d wake up from.

“Maybe sane people will take over. I wouldn’t mind if one of the Kragans became mayor. They’re cool.” A smile came unbidden as she thought about the old white Cajun woman who ruled their owl parliament. Hell, black, white, or even green, Rachel had never had a real pack leader before and was thrilled that Aunt Bitty was encouraging her to find her own way.

By habit, she reached up to run her fingers through her hair and flinched when the curls fell through her grasp in just an instant. She still wasn’t accustomed to the loss of her formerly long, luxurious, straight hair. Now her hair was barely shoulder length and completely unprocessed and without product.

As always, Scott noticed. “For what it’s worth, I like the new do. Sort of predisco ’70s. You look good with shorter hair. Shows off that long, dark neck of yours. You’ll drive the guys in Spokane crazy.”

She grimaced. “I hate it. But the store-bought straightener I was using ruined the ends. I never should have stopped making my gramma’s special conditioner. When my hair started tearing off in chunks in the shower, I knew it was a lost cause.” She shrugged. “Since I’m making a big change in my life, I might as well have a big change in my looks to go with it.”

Scott smiled. “College. So cool. What are you thinking of studying?”

Sitting in the chair across from the couch, she curled her legs up under her. “I don’t know. I like to do a lot of things . . . Dani suggested not declaring a major right away. Maybe I’ll just take basic classes and try a few electives my first year and see what grabs me.”

“You’re going to sign up for a full load?”

She didn’t even have to think about it. “Oh, yeah. I’m planning on at least fifteen credit hours, more if I can do it. I want to finish in four years or less. I’m already the same age as people who are graduating, and I’m just starting school. Competition for a job in the real world will be stiff. But even college and work combined won’t be as bad as being the Omega in this hellhole.”

Scott nodded with a snort. “No doubt. When you’re used to breaking your ass for eighteen hours a day, twelve will feel like a vacation.”

The phone rang as Rachel was nodding agreement. She jumped up to retrieve her cell from to the other side of the room.

“That must be Dani. She was looking for a truck big enough to hold my bed.” Seeing Scott’s puzzled expression, she explained. “Dani’s place has only one bed—hers. It’s easier—and cheaper—to take mine from here instead of buying one there.”

Dani Williams was what Rachel had always imagined a sister would be like, though they didn’t look all that much alike. Dani was curvy, with a dancer’s grace. Rachel felt like she was a twelve-year-old in comparison, all skin and bones, without enough butt to hold up a decent pair of jeans. But she and Dani had been close from the first, trading gossip, books, and tips on hair and makeup.

Even so, Dani wasn’t her sibling, not really. A pang of regret swept through Rachel as she thought about her brothers, wondering what had become of them in the decade since she’d last seen them, the day she’d been kidnapped. Sometimes she really missed her family. Scott and Dani were supportive, but it just wasn’t the same.

She was surprised to see that the phone’s screen wasn’t displaying Dani’s name but Alek Siska’s. Perplexed, she asked Scott, “Can Alek talk yet? This call’s from his number.”

Alek had been attacked and seriously injured by the former town leaders just a few weeks earlier. Saving him, Scott had been one of the heroes of that night. Rachel was so proud of him—to go from being an omega to protecting his brother from the toughest alpha in town, wow. It gave her hope that maybe something better was out there for her too.

“Yeah, for a few days now.” Scott smiled.

Rachel nodded and accepted the call. “Hey, Alek. How’s the newest Wolven agent?” New job, new love. Good things to good people.

“Hey, Rachel.” Alek’s voice was lower than it used to be, and hoarse, but being able to talk at all after having his throat nearly torn out was very awesome. “Better every day.”

“Scott and I just finished packing. Will I see you and Claire before Dani and I leave? I didn’t realize you were out of the hospital yet.” For Alek to find Claire, another awesome. Claire was Rachel’s sorority sister in captivity. Both had been attack victims of the snakes and both had come out of that dungeon, made it through. A lot of other kids hadn’t.

He paused long enough that she prompted, “Alek?”

“Yeah . . . about leaving.” His voice was hedging, making her nervous.

“Don’t mess with me, Alek. Dani and I are leaving today. I got approval from Wolven.”

“Which . . . just got overridden by the Council. I’m really sorry, Rachel, but something has come up.”

Her expression must have been thunderous. Scott got to his feet and came toward her, his face full of concern. No doubt he could hear what was being said. One of the good things about supernatural ears. Panic made her start to pace.

“Something came up? If Dani can’t leave, that’s fine. I’ll go anyway. I’ll do anything I have to, to get out of here. Seriously, I have to be gone by Saturday.”

Claire’s voice came on the line. “Rachel, I’m really sorry about this, but it’s only for a couple of weeks.”

“Claire, you can’t let them do this to me! I have a chance to escape. Please don’t let them screw me over. I’ll wind up the Omega again, back in the cave.”

“No, you won’t,” Claire said confidently. She lowered her voice. “I shouldn’t be telling you this, but it’s not just you. It’s everyone. All trips canceled, all competitions postponed. You can’t be the Omega if there’s no Ascension challenge. The whole town is getting locked down. For peace talks, if you can believe it.”

Rachel took the phone away from her ear and stared at it. Scott looked as confused as Rachel felt. Putting the phone back to her ear, she asked, “Peace between who and who?”

“Bears, from somewhere in Europe. Warring tribes.”

From a distance, Rachel heard Alek say, “Sloths. A group of shifter bears is a sloth.”

“Okay, sloths then. The Council’s been trying to broker a deal for a while; the last time, their location in Serbia was compromised and the mediator was killed.”

“And there’s nowhere closer to go than Luna Lake, Washington?” She knew she sounded incredulous, but her mind was spinning. “Is this a joke?”

“Nope.” Alek had taken the phone back. “Apparently they couldn’t find anyplace else where people weren’t already taking sides. The only bears in our town are American ones, and as far as the Council can tell, none of them are related to anyone in either sloth.

“I’m getting the impression that this is a really big political deal, not just for the Sazi but also in terms of human politics.”

In the background, Claire said, “Tell her that I’ll take the Omega slot for another month, until she can leave. I owe it to her.”

Eyebrows raised, Rachel asked Scott, “Could that work? Can someone volunteer for the post?”

Scott shrugged. “I have no idea. Nobody’s ever chosen to be the Omega before. I mean, really . . . who would? It sucks.”

“Thanks for the heads-up, Alek,” Rachel said into the phone. “I really mean it.” She forced a smile onto her face, which she hoped translated to her voice.

“I’m really glad you’re taking this so well, Rachel. I appreciate it.”

Hanging up, she looked at her boxes and sighed. “Okay, so that’s it, I guess.”

Scott’s voice sounded sad, but she couldn’t figure out why. “Sorry, Rach. I’ll help you start unpacking. Maybe just do the important stuff, like dishes and clothes.”

Rachel shrugged, picking up her purse and heading for the door. “Your choice. I won’t be here.”

He stopped moving, giving off a concerned scent that was edged with fear. “Why? Where are you going?”

“Spokane, of course.”

She opened the door and the fresh, clean air of the hallway blew away her doubts. This was the right choice. Scott put a hand on her shoulder, and she flinched.

“You’re not thinking this through,” he said. “This is a Council decision. Don’t mess with them, Rachel. It’s not worth it.”

The snort came out as bitter sounding as she felt. His hand started massaging her shoulder. She didn’t turn to look at him . . . couldn’t bear to see if his expression matched the scent of sorrow that filled her nose. “Of course it’s worth it, Scott. Freedom is always worth it. I’d forgotten that. But I never will again.”

The hand paused, then let go. Did she hear a snuffle from him? No, don’t look. Her eyes started to burn and her breath had developed a hitch.

“Good luck, girlfriend,” he said. “Fly free.”

A hint of his clove-tinged pride buoyed her as she walked out into the apartment building’s hallway. The door shut behind her with a soft click. Every step away she took from her apartment, the gilded cage of her Omega status, the better she felt. The rusty shit-brown Pontiac next to the building looked like the sleekest Porsche in the world to her at that moment. As she opened the door and slid behind the steering wheel, she heard the thup-thup of helicopters overhead. It wasn’t light enough to see them yet, but there wasn’t much time. The clock was ticking.

The moment she started the engine, she pressed Play on the CD player. The whirring while the disks shuffled lasted only a few seconds and then the all-knowing ’80s car picked one of her Patti LaBelle favorites—“New Attitude.” That was exactly right. She cranked up the volume and started to sing.

Nearing the edge of town, she felt the first brush of an aversion spell. A strong one. No surprise they would try to lock down the town, keep the locals in and make humans want to avoid the area, overcoming any natural curiosity about multiple helicopters landing.

“Okay, I can do this. Just gotta keep my foot on the gas.” She pressed down on the accelerator and felt the powerful old engine drive the car forward. She opened the window, hoping the fresh air would give her courage, but instead full-blown fear hit her, as if a tiger were charging right toward her. Fighting the paralyzing panic, Rachel jammed her foot down on the gas pedal. If she could just get through the spell’s area of influence . . .

Her skin began to crawl, the hairs standing on end and seeming to try to pull out of her skin. It felt like tiny, unseen ants were biting and stabbing her. She gasped for breath.

Bad, bad, bad. Something bad is coming. Fly! Fly home! Hide!

Her heart was beating so fast her head was throbbing and there were flashes in her vision. Rachel gripped the steering wheel for all she was worth, struggling to resist the urge to turn the car around, determined to ride it out. Surely the spell couldn’t cover more than a mile. Could it?

The road flew under her, but the panic didn’t ease. In fact, it got worse, until it was all she could do not to pass out. When the car started to slow, she was almost relieved, until a new fear hit her. Why was she slowing down? Her gaze dropped to the speedometer: the needle was dropping, from 70 to 60, 55, 45, 30 . . .

She checked the gas gauge. Plenty of gas. WTF?

The engine stopped. All the lights on the dash turned red.

The car rolled to a stop, the music silenced.

Shifting into Park, Rachel tried the key again and again. No response, not even a sound from the engine. The car was dead.

Her overwhelming fear faded to a level that was powerfully unnerving but not deadly. Rachel drew a deep breath, then nearly shrieked when a mass of feathers fluttered outside her window.

“Going somewhere?” The golden-feathered owl that had landed next to her car was the biggest she’d ever seen, and she wasn’t entirely positive which species it was. She could tell it was an alpha, though, for it spoke in a rich baritone and gave off such strong magic that she felt like she was standing next to a blast furnace—which she remembered doing once, years earlier, when her Girl Scout troop toured a foundry.

She tried to keep her voice calm, but it was hard to get words out. “Spo . . . Spokane. Just . . . heading . . . home. But the car died.”

The golden eyes blinked and the owl shook his head. “Not today, you’re not. No unnecessary travel. That’s why I killed the spark. Don’t tell me you didn’t get the message, because we had confirmation that everyone was called.”

She tried to respond. She honestly did. But his power, combined with the aversion spell, was simply too much. It was all she could do to breathe.

He noticed. “Oh. Yeah, shielding would probably help. My bad.” The owl shifted forms, turning into a tall, handsome dark-skinned man whose close-cropped hair looked as soft as down. To Rachel’s surprise, he looked like he was wearing clothes—blue jeans and a flannel shirt. Only the most powerful Sazi could create such illusions. Rachel had never known anyone other than Asylin Williams, her guardian, who had that ability. In the same instant, his magic was sucked back inside him and the immense weight on her chest lessened. “Is that better?”

She nodded. “Much. Who are you?”

“I’m with Wolven. That’s all you need to know.” He opened the driver’s door. “Scoot over. We’re heading back to town.”

Her fingers tightened on the steering wheel and she didn’t budge. “Maybe you are. I’m going to Spokane.”

He glared down at her, his scent not angry but stern. “Look, we’re not here to tromp on your rights, but you know I can freeze or discipline you, right? You don’t get to say no to a Wolven agent.”

Rachel’s mouth set in a tight line, and she glared what she hoped were daggers at him. She knew she would regret what she was about to say, but she couldn’t stop herself. Tensing her muscles, preparing for the pain that was sure to come, she said, “No.”

There was no agony. She wiggled her pinkie. Not frozen either. She risked a sniff of the air, and the scent made her look at his face, where she saw bemusement mixed with frustration. He crossed his arms over his chest and raised his brows. Something seemed familiar about his expression, but she couldn’t place it.

“You’re going to be a pain in my butt the whole time we’re in town, aren’t you?”

“Probably.” It was the truth. “I need to leave this place, and unless you kill me, I’m going to keep trying.”

He shook his head and sighed. “Go,” he said, waving a hand in dismissal. “I’ll lose a strip of hide for letting you leave, but better another one now than the dozen you’re likely to cause me later.” He turned and started to walk back toward town.

Before he could change his mind, Rachel turned the key and . . . miracle! The car started right up. Had the Wolven agent really killed the engine from a distance? She had never heard of anyone doing that. But that was a question for another day. Shifting into Drive, she hit the gas, hearing the tires spin for purchase as the music started to blare again. Free! Her heart soared.

Seconds later, she braked hard and pressed the Off button on the CD player. “Do they really take an actual strip of hide?” She’d heard the phrase so many times: Ooo! Better be careful. You’ll lose a strip of hide for that. The rat bastards that ran the town had never actually done it, but something in the owl shifter’s voice told her it was no mere figure of speech.

The Wolven agent stopped walking and turned to stare at her. He took a deep breath and approached the car. As he neared the back bumper, the illusion of his shirt disappeared. Like most birds she knew, his chest was wide and muscular. He lifted his right arm and she winced at the sight of a wound, raw and red, under his arm, along his rib cage. The shape and size of a playing card, the injury was just starting to heal. If that was illusion too, it was a good one.

“Yes. They do. It’ll take until the next moon to heal, and it hurts like hell to fly. It’s usually done with a silver knife, but this was made with silver-tipped claws. Go. Better me than you. I can tell you’re not alphic, and a wound like this could really mess you up, especially if it got infected.”

“Crap! What did you do to get that?” Unable to help herself, she reached out to touch it. He stepped back, out of reach.

He shrugged, smelling hot and bitter, like he was ashamed of whatever he’d done. “Something stupid. I deserved it. Sort of like now. Last chance . . . go. Before—”

The engine died again. Damn it! A new voice, a deep, growling baritone, filled the car. “Before what, agent? Before I show up?” Something heavy thumped onto the roof, and Rachel ducked instinctively.

The light in the car changed. Rachel turned toward the passenger window to find it covered with thick, coarse black fur.

The man on her left spoke to what she presumed was a bear shifter, if the hideous, rancid musk smell was any indication, over the top of her car. It had to be a damned big bear, judging by the fact that she couldn’t see its head. “No . . . sir. Before the delegates arrive. This woman is an omega, and an owl. She’s no threat to anyone. If she leaves before anyone arrives, there’s no reason to think the peace talks would be in any danger.”

There was a pause, then a sarcastic response with a thick accent from the carpet of fur to her right. “Oh, then I suppose you’ve run a comprehensive background check in the few minutes since we landed? You know for positive this woman has no bear family members and hasn’t been bribed or coerced into spying or setting a bomb before getting away from the fallout? Omegas are known to do that.”

What? Rachel’s mouth dropped open. “Hello? Rude much?” she said, turning toward the mass of fur. “I’m right here. I’m not some sort of whack-job terrorist. And, by the way, who the hell are you to question my background or ethics?”

The fur moved. As it did, the driver’s door was yanked open and the owl shifter pulled her out of the car. The very real fear that was bleeding from the owl’s every pore and the fury coming off the bear shifter in waves were nearly overwhelming.

Getting her feet under her, Rachel looked at the Wolven agent currently leaning on her car. She’d never seen the high school principal—the only bear in Luna Lake—in his animal form and had never been this close to a natural bear. Still, she was sure that this bear was far too large to be normal.

Snarling, it towered over her car. Paws the size of hubcaps flexed, driving claws the size of carving knives through the steel roof of the Pontiac, which bent and protested with a screeching sound before giving way. The bear had put its claws through her car without even breaking a sweat, if bears sweated! Holy baby Jesus!

The owl shoved Rachel behind his back and she stayed there, frozen in terror, heart pounding as tension flooded the air, the scent strong enough to make her sneeze.

“Tamir, don’t,” her protector said. “This is between us. It has nothing to do with her.”

“This has everything to do with her, because it has to do with your judgment. You’re supposed to be protecting the delegates. You know I would never have picked you for this assignment. People have died where you were assigned.”

“I’m pretty sure you were on that same assignment. In fact, I think your body count is higher than mine. Maybe we need to ask the delegates who are still alive which one is the better protector.”

Whoa. Peeking around the owl agent, Rachel said, “For what it’s worth, I feel a lot safer around the one who pulled me out of my car rather than the one who just destroyed it.”

The owl shifter turned his head sharply. “Quiet. Be grateful it’s just your car.”

Though she could see his shirt, only skin brushed her hand when he moved. With a jolt, she recalled that despite what her eyes saw, she was pressed up against a stranger’s very naked backside. She took a step back, nearly blushing.

The bear—Tamir—reared back and pulled his claws out of her roof. “Return her to town. The councilman will decide who should be punished . . . and how.” With that, the bear turned and loped off into the trees, shrinking before her eyes until he was the size of the wild bears she’d sometimes spotted from a distance in the forest, near the lake.

The owl was just short of livid, and Rachel didn’t know if he was angrier with her or the bear. He opened the driver’s side door.

“You should have gone when you had the chance,” he said flatly. “Get in.”

Rachel wanted to stand firm, wanted to appear as tough as the two Wolven agents, but knew she wasn’t. She was all bluff and bluster, as her gramma used to say. Plus, this man had risked his neck for her. She got in the car and slid over into the passenger seat, ducking to avoid the sharp slivers of metal hanging down around the puncture holes in the roof.

Without another word, he seated himself behind the wheel. When he slammed the door, the whole car shook. He started the engine, threw the car into gear, and soon had them turned around and heading for Luna Lake. After a long silence, broken only by the sound of his fingers thrumming on the steering wheel, Rachel sighed and said, “Sorry.”

He grunted in acknowledgment but didn’t respond, which annoyed her, and the smell of his anger continued unabated. She crossed her arms over her chest and stared out the side window. Jerk.

She reached over and turned the music back on. She didn’t sing, though—with a pissed-off Wolven agent in the car, that seemed somehow . . . inappropriate. But she kept the mantra in her head. New Attitude. I am in control. She noticed that his fingers began to tap in time with the beat of the music.

As they drove into town, Rachel spotted a half dozen or more strangers wandering along the street next to the police station. The Wolven agent parked near the station and took her keys, then hopped out of the car. Rachel was reaching for the passenger door handle when he opened it from outside. She wasn’t sure whether he acted out of courtesy or suspicion that she might bolt, but she thanked him as she got out and stood up.

The area was full of animal smells she didn’t recognize—exotic cats and birds and even a snake. That made her head turn, searching—she knew the scent of snakes all too well. The odor pulled an old fear from deep inside her, something she thought she’d overcome. She eyed the newcomers with suspicion but couldn’t figure out who smelled of reptile.

Her foster father, John Williams, separated from the crowd and half ran toward the car. He pulled her into an abrupt, powerful hug. It surprised her, since he wasn’t much of a hugger. His thick green cable sweater was warm against her face. “For God’s sake, Rachel! You could have been killed. What were you thinking?”

What could she say? He put a dark, cool hand on the side of her head, pressing her cheek against his fluffy sweater. His smell, warm feathers and cologne, made her feel safe. She whispered, “There’s a snake in town, Dad.”

He hugged her even closer as warm concern flooded her nose. “Is that why you ran? He’s a councilman, just here to check security. He’s leaving. A cat will be taking his place for the meetings.”

She decided to let John believe the snake was why she’d tried to escape. “As long as he’s leaving.”

She felt his head turn as he addressed the owl shifter who had captured her. “Thank you for bringing her back. She still has PTSD from her time with the snakes. But she’s not a spy or a threat. Please don’t let them hurt her, Agent Adway.”

Adway. Wow. That was a surname she hadn’t heard in a long time . . . in a lifetime. The owl agent let out a long sigh. “It’s not up to me. I’m not in charge of this operation. But I’ll try to get them to understand. What’s her name, so I can pull her file?”

Sliding out of John’s hug, she faced the other man, holding out her arms in frustration. “Again . . . right here in front of you. What is it with you guys?” Not really expecting an answer, she continued, “I’m Rachel Washington.”

The owl’s jaw dropped and his eyes narrowed. He stared at her for a long moment, pointing at her with one finger. All that came out of his mouth was, “You—” Abruptly he spun on his heels and sprinted toward a black SUV a dozen feet away.

Her dad put his hands on his hips, raising his shoulders and lowering his head just a bit, like he would in owl form when annoyed. “Well, that was rude. What’s his problem?”

She shook her head, staring after the agent and feeling a weird mixture of gratitude and frustration. “Pfft. They were both like that.”


How to explain? “Another Wolven agent, I’m guessing this guy’s boss, stopped us on the road. He’s a big black bear and he was a total jerk. Look what he did to the top of my car!”

John blinked at the sight of the roof, where four messy punctures cut through to the headliner inside. “Okay, that is not acceptable. Someone needs to fix this.” He glanced around, then nodded and touched her shoulder. “Wait here.”

Rachel had no intention of waiting. She wanted to hear more about what was happening in town, so she followed her dad over to the trio of vehicles parked near the diner. He called, “Excuse me, Mrs. Monier?”

A short, slender woman with reddish-blond hair, dressed in a fluffy tan jacket with a fur ruff that matched the trim on her boots, turned away from a small group of strangers. Amber Monier had been hanging around town since Monk and Gabriel had died, and Rachel assumed the bobcat shifter was part of Wolven. The woman had never taken the time to introduce herself around, which Rachel thought was bad manners. Bitty seemed to know her quite well, based on things the older woman had said.

“Actually, it’s Wingate. Monier was my maiden name, but old friends like our esteemed snake councilman tend to still call me that.”

A few steps behind her father, Rachel crossed into scent range just as the woman said “snake.” The reptile’s scent made the young owl stumble to a stop and gasp for breath. Her father must have been trying to protect her from this when he told her to stay away.

She saw the snake now, right in front of her. He was tall and Middle Eastern in appearance, with a clean-shaven, narrow face . . . a viper’s face. He wore a headdress similar to the keffiyehs she’d seen back home when she was growing up, but the cloth flowed like silk and was embroidered with golden thread that glowed in the rising sun. From the side, he looked just like the man her captors had spoken about in hushed voices, the man she’d seen only once: Sargon, who had inspired emotions far beyond terror.

Like Sargon, this man absolutely reeked of power, which was cast out around him in a halo of pain. Maybe it wasn’t the sun that made his headdress glow. Her skin burned, her hair felt ready to ignite into flame. She couldn’t go any closer. He was just standing there, with people fawning over him. Even her dad had slowed and bowed his head.

Owls do not bow to snakes! She had to master her fears.

"How dare you show your face among owls! How dare you!" She spat the words, shouting across the distance that her body couldn't tread.

All conversation stopped, all faces turned toward Rachel. The snake’s gaze met hers. He narrowed his eyes and started to walk toward her. Though Rachel’s instincts screamed fly! her feet were frozen, as though set in cement. Her dad tried to step between them, but the snake’s hand made a slight movement, tossing John aside as easily as if he were brushing off a mosquito.

The owl agent walked up to the snake without hesitation and put a hand on the taller man’s shoulder. The snake again tossed his hand lightly and seemed surprised when the owl was able to grab him, momentarily arresting his motion. His brows raised in an almost elegant way, but his scent was thick and oily, as angry as a pan burning on the stove. The agent dipped his head, staring at the snake’s neck, but his voice was calm and steady when he said, “Your eminence, please. She was one of those rescued from the cave.”

The snake looked at Rachel again. He nodded once. The woman who smelled of cat touched his other arm. Power burned between them, hot enough to scorch as the cat tried to hold back the snake. Rather than fight her, he turned his head slightly and said quietly, “Release me, Amber. You know this must happen.”

Something unspoken passed between them, Rachel could tell. When the cat dipped her head and stepped back, so did the owl.

They were going to let him kill her!

WOW! You know you need to find out what happens next, right? Well, go forth! It’s available today. Rachel rocks and Dalvin being stunned by her name is a key moment in the story. Thanks for dropping by! Enjoy!

Thank you Ms. Clamp for stopping by Lily's Reviews!

Giveaway: One commenter will receive a print copy of Illicit by Cathy Clamp. Giveaway will end on November 7 at 11:00 P.M. with a name drawn at that time. Please leave a valid e-mail address along with your first name in the comment section.

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Today, Lily’s Reviews would like to welcome Andrew Q. Gordon to the blog in anticipation of Lords of Lore and Legend, book 3 in Champion of the Gods being published this month.

Thank you, Lily for allowing me stop by today.

Square pegs don’t fit in round holes, right? I can think of a few ways they could. A sledgehammer comes to mind—a really big, heavy one—as one way to make it fit. Or you could use a really small square peg and drop it in a much bigger round hole. Usually there is an exception. Whenever I’m told something can’t be done or has to be one way, I’m reminded of that line at the end of Star Wars Episode III when Obi Wan tells Anakin that only the Sith deal in absolutes. Didn’t he just create an absolute? Only the Sith deal … Thus even the saying, nothing is absolute is false, because that suggests an absolute rule.


Right, confused? Baffled? Ready to click the “x” and yell at Lily for letting this loon onto her site? Sorry. There is a point. In writing there are conventional wisdoms that are sometimes treated as absolutes. There are formulas for success. Things that sell. Things you should never do. Stories are supposed to fit neatly into a genre, with a sub-genre to help clarify things. But have you ever tried to pigeon hole yourself? Are you an extrovert? Introvert? Outgoing? Shy? Yes, I am. At various times I can be any of the above, depending on the situation. The same with the Champion of the Gods series.


Take away Farrell and Miceral’s relationship and it would be a straight (no pun) up high fantasy series. Take out the fantasy element and…well there would be a pretty simple love story and I’m not sure what the two would do all day. (Okay, I’m sure there would be a story there, but I’ve not heard that one yet.) The market for MM fantasy is small, but in reality, the market is as big as the general fantasy market. Why? Because at its heart, Champions is a fantasy with an mm element, not an MM romance or even an MM Fantasy.


My goal is to find fantasy readers and not drill down further. I don’t care if you like MM fantasy, MF fantasy or something without any MM/MF element. My question is: Do you like high fantasy? Yes? Then try book one of the series. It’s free. Yes, that’s a real offer. DSP Publication is giving anyone who asks a copy of the The Last Grand Master for free. And we’re making the offer all across fantasyland. (I know that was bad, but my inner geek has always wanted to find a really good reference for that word.)


High fantasy might not be your cuppa tea and if that’s true, this probably isn’t for you. The romance isn’t strong enough to carry the story as a romance. And since we’re into book three now, the two of them have settled into a committed pairing. That alone is the death knell for romance books. But with each book, the tension builds, the fight scenes grow and the ultimate show down becomes clearer.

Book Three, Kings of Lore and Legend, shows more of the world, gives more history and background and we learn more about the main characters and who they really are. I’ve written the rest of the series and I can tell you there are several more revelations to come. But since every story has a beginning, get your copy of Book One for free and get started.

To get a free eCopy of The Last Grand Master, you can sign up for my monthly updates:


Or you can download it directly from DSP Publications:



AQGLogo Full SizeAndrew Q. Gordon wrote his first story back when yellow legal pads, ball point pens were common and a Smith Corona correctable typewriter was considered high tech. Adapting with technology, he now takes his MacBook somewhere quiet when he wants to write.

He currently lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his partner of twenty years, their young daughter and dog. In addition to dodging some very self-important D.C. 'insiders', Andrew uses his commute to catch up on his reading. When not working or writing, he enjoys soccer, high fantasy, baseball and seeing how much coffee he can drink in a day.

Follow Andrew:
On his website: www.andrewqgordon.com
On Facebook: www.facebook.com/andrewqugordon
On Twitter: @andrewqgordon
Or just email him: andrewqgordon@gmail.com

From Wayward Ink Publishing:
A Closed Door
From DSP Publications:
The Last Grand Master (Champion of the Gods – Book 1)
The Eye and the Arm (Champion of the Gods - Book 2)
Kings of Lore and Legend (Champion of the Gods - Book 3)

From Dreamspinner Press:
Self published:
Ashes of Life

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Today on Lily's Reviews there is a cover reveal and excerpt from Jamie Lake's I Got You:

The roar of the ocean was deafening, the mist even stronger as the wind picked up and swept between them. It was isolated, not a soul in sight which is why Benjamin wanted to go here.

"Used to love coming here all the time," Benjamin said, lugging a picnic basket with him. They'd picked it up at Costco on the way to the beach. Jake loved how he was spontaneous like that.

"With your best friend? What was his name?"

Benjamin exhaled as if he were letting out something that had been in him a long time. "His name was Cole. It was the one place we could both go and be totally ourselves. No one could see us. We were safe here. We could say what we wanted to say, do what we wanted to do ..." He nibbled Jake on the side of the neck which would only turned Jake rock hard in two-seconds flat if he didn’t think about something else. Jake cracked a smile.

"Love that smile of yours, man," Benjamin said, sliding his fingers in between Jake's. It felt so perfect walking with him without worrying about someone seeing them, but there was also a wave of guilt.

He tried to change the subject. "What's in the basket?"

"Just a few tasty items," Benjamin said, nonchalantly.

"Like what?" he asked. He hadn't paid any attention in the store when Benjamin grabbed the items. His mind was too much on how he'd explain to him the secret that had been eating him alive for so long.

"Some olive oil, veggies ... everything we need."

"Everything we need?"

There was a hint of mischievous in his expression. "Yep ... You cool?" Benjamin asked. "Cold?"

"No, I—" Jake started to say, but it was too late. Benjamin took off his shirt and draped it over Jake's shoulders, revealing that killer body of his. As if he needed another reminder of how sexy the man was. He had to look away or he was going to get hard again, which would make what he had to do even more difficult.

"You're getting pretty swoll, you know. I can tell, your body's improving."

"Well, if those workouts you're giving me doesn't do it, I don't know what will."

"And it will only improve. With me by your side, nothing's impossible, so long as we're together."

Why did those words have to soothe his soul? Why did they have to be exactly what he needed to hear after months of feeling alone without Alberto? Yet, why did they have to feel so wrong at the same time, knowing that they were coming from his step-brother?

“You’re a natural, Jake. I’ve trained a lot of guys and you’ve got the skills. You just gotta get that fucker who did that to you out of your head. He’s fucking up your mind.”

“Easy for you to say,” Jake said.

“Not quite. I know what it’s like to be picked on and I know what it’s like to pick on someone too.”

“What do you mean?” Jake asked.

Ben sighed. “I wasn’t always such a nice guy, dude. I had a shitty upbringing, a lot of insecurities and I took them out on people. I guess helping you is my way of making amends. That’s why I say, don’t let that guy trip you up. You got something he doesn’t, a beautiful heart. And the skills to back it up.”

Jake’s face softened. He’d never had anyone believe in him that much, not even Alberto. His best friend would have laughed if he heard he was training, but Benjamin saw something in him and it warmed his heart.

“What do you want to do? I mean, in the future,” Benjamin asked.

“Like for a career? That’s why I’m in school. Trying to figure it out,” he said.

“You’re lucky, you’re smart like that. Always wanted to go to college. Too dumb, too late.”

“Too dumb? Not quite,” Jake said.

“Well, you grow up with a mom and step-dad like I did, telling you that enough times, you start to believe it. Nah. If I could do anything, I’d be an MMA coach.”

“You’d be great at that!” Jake said. He could imagine Benjamin coaching with the best of them. “You’re tough, but patient. You know your shit. I mean, look what you’ve done with me in such a short time.”

“Just dreams.” He smiled. “So long as you’ve got someone that has your back by your side, doesn’t matter what you do.”

Fuck, there he went again. Jake had to let it out, or the secret that kept them from truly gelling would break them apart.

As if reading his mind, Benjamin asked, "Oh, what was it you wanted to tell me?"

Jake sighed. Fuck, his nose stung and the sea air wasn’t making it any better. Don't fucking cry, he told himself. He breathed, hoping it would give him the strength he needed as his heart pounded in his throat. "This is really hard."

"What is it?" Benjamin asked, his frown lines deepening with concern. He squeezed Jake's hand to comfort him and Jake had to pull away.

"You know how I feel about you. You're right. You're amazing I—"

"Are you cooling it between us?" Benjamin asked. "We've just started. You're not into me?"

"No, the exact opposite. I'm very into you. I'm more into you than I've ever been into anyone. I'm so into you, I can't even see straight. I can't even sleep at night without thinking about you, that's how into you I am."

Benjamin smiled. He touched Jake's cheek with the back of his hand. "Me too. I haven't felt this way, this connected to anyone in as long as I can remember. Fuck. Whenever I think about the future, all I can see is us together. I plan my whole day thinking about how it might affect you, and I think about when I can squeeze in time to see more of you. It's fucking weird, but it just feels right. I don't know what it is, Jake. I feel like we're ... family or something."

"Oh, Jesus," Jake breathed. This was harder than he thought it would be.

"Isn't that a good thing?" Benjamin pulled him over to the side of a hill, cornering him, his eyes narrowing him. He was going to fuck him right then and there on the beach. Jake could feel it and though he knew he should stop it, he couldn't bring himself to say anything. "Isn't it?" Benjamin repeated.

"Yes, but—" Jake started to say and Benjamin moved closer to him, kissing the side of his jawline, then his neck. He placed the picnic basket down and put Jake's face in his palms, his eyes dancing, glint with possibilities.

"Ssh. Then, let's not think anymore. Let's enjoy ... the moment?"

Before Jake could respond, Benjamin's lips massaged his, slipping in and out like a kissing connoisseur. Their lips danced in perfect motion rhythmically, like the perfect tango partners. Benjamin's tongue teased Jake's. Kissing him deeply, his hands slid down the man’s back, under his pants, through his underwear, spreading his cheeks apart.
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Today, Lily's Reviews welcomes author Cathy Clamp offering a sneak peak into how Forbidden was created.

Welcome Ms. Clamp!

One of the things I’ve always loved best about the creation process is how a story can change during the writing. A lot of times when I’m writing, I’ll cut out text that I’ve written . . . not because it’s bad text, but I changed my mind about a direction to go. In FORBIDDEN, I completely changed the first three chapters after writing about half of the book. It just sort of wandered, instead of getting right to the action. So I thought I’d give readers a little bit of what wound up on the cutting room floor. When you read the book (and I hope you’ll follow along), this scene is set in the nurse’s office, and originally happened BEFORE Alek and Claire meet the Sheriff and Mayor, just before Alek races to the post office. Enjoy!


Alek was moving with quiet efficiency around the room, grabbing gauze, new cotton swabs, sterile stitch thread and scissors. When he was done, everything was lined up in an exact line on the rolling tray, in the order they’d be needed. It seemed in keeping with the personality she’d already noticed. His mind was quick and organized. It was the sign of a good cop . . . or a proficient serial killer. She’d met both, and had learned that the difference between the two was very small.

The woman Alek had identified as Marilyn returned to the room. Her long dark hair had been pulled back into a ponytail, showing a face with strong angular lines. Her high cheek bones and dusky skin told her she was Native American, so it was likely the feathers she smelled under the skin was a golden eagle. Maybe even a bald eagle. She didn’t know enough eagles to smell the difference between the two. “Golden or bald?” Sometimes it was just easier to ask.

She smiled, showing white, even teeth. “Golden. Not many balds in the world. I think one of the few is down in your neck of the woods.” She pulled a padded stool close to the table and patted it. “How about you sit here? I need to see the top of your head.”

Oh. Yeah, that made sense. Claire nodded as she hopped down off the table and sat on the stool. “Will Kerchee is part of our pack. He’s a good man.”

Marilyn chuckled. “Well, hardly part of your pack. You’re a wolf. But I have heard good things about him.”

Claire felt her smile tighten. It wasn’t really worth arguing. She knew that most people didn’t understand how the Tedford pack worked. But Will, Wolven agent, Texas Ranger, and celebrated seer, was most definitely part of their pack. There were wolves, birds and a few cats in the pack—all mentally connected into one stronger whole. It wasn’t normal, but then they didn’t have a normal alpha female. She was all about family, familia she called it. Nothing was more important, so when she’d heard about children disappearing up here, she had to act. “Definitely.” She’d let the other woman guess which comment she was responding to.


Interested? Go pick up the book and find out more about the characters. You’ll enjoy it. I promise!

LR: Thank you for stopping by and for the insight!
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Blurb: USA Today bestselling author Cathy Clamp reboots the Sazi universe in Forbidden, a tightly-paced, high-tension urban fantasy thriller.

Ten years have passed since the war that destroyed the Sazi Council and inflicted a horrible “cure” on thousands of Sazi, robbing them of their ability to shapeshift.

Luna Lake, isolated in Washington State, started as a refugee camp for Sazi orphans. Now it’s a small town and those refugees are young adults, chafing at the limits set by their still-fearful guardians.

There’s reason to fear: Sazi children are being kidnapped. Claire, a red wolf shifter, is sent to investigate. Held prisoner by the Snakes during childhood, Claire is distrusted by those who call Luna Lake home.

Before the war, Alek was part of a wolf pack in Chicago. In Luna Lake he was adopted by a parliament of Owls, defying Sazi tradition. The kidnappings are a painful reminder that his little sister disappeared a decade ago.

When Claire and Alek meet, sparks fly–but the desperate race to find the missing children forces them to set aside their mutual attraction and focus on the future of their people.

Review: It has been a long while since I had read a Sazi book and I was fortunate enough to have received an ARC to read from Ms. Clamp for an honest review. Reading this book made me realize how much I had enjoyed reading the series and I am glad to have the opportunity.

Reading the book, I have to say that I found little fault with it.

I like the town setting of Luna Lake and everything about it. I enjoyed the characters - the good and the bad, but especially Alek and how he interacts with the others. The storyline - the threads, the pacing, the looking into things - was intriguing and enjoyable.

What I believe I enjoyed the most about Forbidden was how everything tied in together.

Wonderful read and I look forward to more books in the series.

(Image and blurb (c)Cathy Clamp)

Forbidden may be bought here.
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Today, Lily's Reviews welcomes Rhys Ford to the blog....


So a funny thing happened on the way to a tweet, Greg Tremblay, the fantastic narrator of my Dirty series, texted me and said… hey, you should giveaway a custom ringtone. Or something to that effect. There was some discussion. A few emails and then well, long story short—there may have been some pixilated shots of whiskey and banter but a plan was formed. A plan so cunning I could have stuck a tail on it and called it a weasel.

Mostly, it involved Greg. And your phone. But it was still a plan!

After a furious, intense process of queries, eliminations, debating on who said what, we came up with a set of phrases from Cole, Bobby, Jae, Claudia, Scarlet and one from Maddy then Greg went to work. And returned to me with a brilliant sound bites forged by a narrative master—in the style of the characters’ voices.

So dear reader, as a thank you for everything you’ve done for Greg and me, I’d like to present the entire set of ringtones—twenty one in total—FREE, as a gift to you.

Available in Android (MP3) and iPhone (formats for Android and Apple phones, Greg has also graciously included the WAV files if that’s your thing. Download links to the zipped files are provided below.*

A great humongous thank you to all of the blogs who helped me with this guerilla gifting. This swirled up on Tuesday and Greg just MADE it happen. He is the voice of the series and I am forever grateful for his talent.

Love you all, and really, Thank You.

Rhys Ford

Dirty Rings Android MP3

Dirty Rings Apple M4a

Dirty Rings Apple M4r

Dirty Rings Wav

If you’ve not tried out Greg Tremblay’s narrations, please do so. He makes audiobooks fun and damn, he brings Cole and the others to life.

Greg Tremblay’s body of work can be found here—and yes, the Dirty series is there but so are many other lovely audio books. I highly recommend one of Greg’s audiobooks, a comfy chair, a pair of headphones and a nice hot cup of coffee… or tea… with or without whisky.

* These are copyrighted and available free for individual use. The files included in the zip cannot be sold by third parties nor can they be altered in anyway as to destroy the integrity of the original work. Animals were test subjects for these sound files and while the cat could not have given less of a shit, the dog seemed mighty interested. Please note, neither own nor use a phone or a computer so results may vary.
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cover image



Logan Brandish - writer
Brock Kimble - new editor
Janey Caster - LB's housemate
Frances Barlow - newest editor
Vera and Cassie - new friends met in Vienna, go to ROme with LB
Roberto, Marco
Lucille- LB's Mom
Grace Allenson - Ls & Js next door neighbor
Curtis Little - cardboard box guy, Ls ex

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Blurb: The Taskforce is used to being the hunter, but this time they’re the hunted.

Intent on embroiling the US in a quagmire that will sap its economy and drain its legitimacy, Russia passes a potential weapon of mass destruction to Boko Haram, an extreme Islamic sect in Nigeria. The Russian FSB believes the weapon, a relic of the Cold War, has deteriorated and is no longer effective, but they are wrong. Boko Haram has the means for mass destruction, which will be set loose upon a multitude of unsuspecting innocents on one of the world’s grandest stages.

Trying to solve the riddle of who might be stalking them, Pike Logan and the Taskforce have no idea what’s been set in motion; but there’s another secret from the Cold War buried in the Russian FSB, and exposing it will mean the difference between life and death—not only for Pike and his partner, Jennifer, but for perhaps millions more around the globe.

Review: Days of Rage is another fast-paced thriller with a very relevant storyline in today's world.

The blending of fiction with real-world "what could be" possibilities is riveting. So are the characters (TaskForce, FSB, Boko Haram) and how they work, react, and change throughout the book.

This is only the second book I had read by Mr. Taylor, but will definitely look for others to catch-up on as well as those that will be published in the future.

Received from publisher for review.

(Cover image and blurb (c)Brad Taylor)


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